*Famous Bollywood director, writer and producer Ram Gopal Varma breathed his last today with the release of his latest film - Sarkar 3. Best known for his Mumbai-based gangster dramas Satya and Company, the director will be remembered for championing the cause of independent filmmakers through the late 90s and early 00s.
He is survived by his Twitter account, which includes some bizarre instances of him exercising his freedom of expression. However, the funny thing is not all of those tweets can be blamed on alcohol. May his soul rest in peace, and may it stay away from vodka and a mobile phone after he reads the many reviews slamming his latest directorial venture.*
It is terribly saddening to see a director you greatly admired, being reduced to a parody of himself. Irrespective of what he has been in the news for recently, I was hoping for vintage Ramu to roll back the years when it came to his latest film and shut everyone up (including me) for good. However, the third film in the Sarkar series only mocks the director's 'signature elements' which he somewhat made his own in a decade spanning close to three decades. One of the best things about the 2005 release was how it used its silences. I remember at least 3 scenes involving Zakir Hussain, Abhishek Bachchan, Amitabh and Kay Kay Menon, where only the eyes spoke with the now infamous Govinda Govinda playing in full volume.
That was reduced to a gimmick in 2008's Sarkar Raj itself, and it looks even more hilarious in Sarkar 3 as Ramu dials up the background score after every second line of dialogue, working it like an alarm for the snoozing audience. The art direction is appalling as we see several close-ups of Lord Ganesha in Sarkar's chamber, and hear his voice from behind it. The forced silhouettes look too fake and tacky to be taken seriously, and to add to everything among all those Ganesh murtis, is the statue of a pug. Yes, I'm still scratching my head. A part of me is inclined to believe he got it for free.
2017's Sarkar 3 begins where Sarkar Raj ended, in quicksand. And sadly, the film doesn't live to tell the tale. It is the same old repetition of formula where a Safari Suit enters Mumbai for 'dhandha' purposes and the only thing standing between him and a few thousand crores is the legendary Sarkar. The messiah won't allow the poor to be exploited for personal gains, and thus begins the most convoluted and exhausting Mexican standoff between the two concerned parties. I'm really curious as to how people get their information in this world where everyone happens to have pakki khabar based on which people are carelessly bumped off, when even the dumbest of us can see through the blatant manipulation of the truth.
In spite of the movie's excellently diverse cast, the acting is mostly sub-par. Everyone is given creepy lines, and a drink in their hand where they announce their 'brilliant plan' to get rid of Sarkar. Entrusted with playing the role of an old, wounded tiger Bachchan exerts his baritone to the full extent like he did in last year's Pink. However, in this case it does nothing to lift his performance or the film. Rohini Hattangadi has the most laughable response to her son's (Manoj Bajpayee) plan of becoming a strong political contender in the state. Amit Sadh spends the duration of the movie in what looks like him posing in a series of 'candid pics' for Instagram.
However, the two performances that take the cake in this 'exasperating farrago' of bad acting are Yami Gautam and Jackie Shroff. In one scene Jackie unloads some pretentious BS on his customary bikini-clad moll, to which she says Main samjhi nahi? (I don't get it?). And that's when Jackie baba says it Hum dono samajh gaye, toh fayda kya? (If both of us get it, what is the point?). I felt a strong urge to unleash his vocabulary from the Polio PSA on him. Yami Gautam, on the other hand, appears in a series of scenes where her hairdo screams out #OutOfTheBedLook and #WokeUpLikeThis. And she's expected to let out that hint of creepy smile at the end of each scene, which really made me laugh after a point.
There is only one and one man to blame for the calamity that is Sarkar 3, and that is the late Ram Gopal Varma. We've put up with a whole lot of crap like Aag, Phoonk, Agyaat and a series of his indulgences only hoping he would make something half-decent like the Rakhta Charitra movies. Too bad, all the faith has gone down the drain with this movie. A line Amitabh Bachchan repeats throughout the movie is Main wahi karta hoon jo mujhe sahi lagta hai (I do what I think is right) - almost seems like Ramu wrote it as his defence for his string of bad movies.
And I can totally imagine Ram Gopal Varma sitting somewhere in a printed night-robe with his White Russian reading all the reviews and going 'Yeah well, that's just like your opinion man!' And I shudder to think he will make continue to make terrible movies like these, to the point that he will obliterate whatever little legacy he has left. The optimist in me hopes for a resurrection of course, but the realist knows the party is long over. And Varma has painfully overstayed his welcome.